There is no definitive medical explanation for rosacea, a chronic skin condition that affects many adults over the age of 40 years. What’s more, there is no cure. But there are ways you can avoid some of the more common triggers that cause your skin to flare up and become inflamed.

So what exactly characterises rosacea and can it be contained?


Rosacea has long mystified the medical industry yet it remains a prevailing and non-curable skin condition that is characterised by excessive redness, inflammation and acne-like breakouts.

It’s also a common skin condition that is often presented with a unique set of challenges as it’s difficult to conceal and its persistence can impact a sufferer’s self-esteem.

But don’t despair if you have experienced an outbreak. Research has now identified several possible activators that exasperates rosacea and thankfully, it is a skin condition that you can control.

Risk Factors

Of the risk factors associated with rosacea, it has been found that the condition impacts more women than men, with most patients between the ages of 30 and 50 years and typically those with fair skin and blue eyes. Men, however, traditionally present more severe symptoms.

So what elements can prompt an outbreak?

Excess UV exposure [sensitivity to light], spicy food [sensitivity to heat], red wine [histamines], hot baths and possible genetics [fair-skin Celtic beauties in particular or if your parents suffered from the condition] can cause chronic inflammation and flushed skin.

If left untreated, you may also experience broken facial capillaries, pus-filled bumps and itching or burning skin. That’s just for starters.

Other trademark triggers include the common bacterium, Bacilius Oleronius, which is carried by a micro-organism [ such as Demodex — a skin mite], the intestinal bacteria Helicobacter pylori, excess Cathelicidin — an antimicrobial peptide that traditionally protects the skin from infection, elevated levels of enzymes called stratum corneum tryptic enzymes (SCTE), caffeine and old-fashioned stress which can trigger excess cortisol— a hormone that plays an important role in the body’s stress response.             

Regardless of those risks, many patients often have no prior warning of the skin condition before their first major outbreak as a mature adult. And most outbreaks occur in cycles; sometimes weeks or months apart.

What are the tell-tale symptoms?

There are four types of rosacea; each with a defining level. However, most patients experience mild outbreaks [acne-like flare-ups typically on the cheeks, nose and forehead] without the condition worsening.

The levels include:

  • Subtype one: Erythematotelangiectatic Rosacea (ETR) which is the most common type with patients experiencing facial redness, flushing, inflammation, stinging | burning skin, rough and scaly skin, and broken blood vessels that are visible.
  • Subtype two: Papulopustular Rosacea, which features acne-like breakouts (especially patients with oily-skin), broken blood vessels and red-patchy skin. This subtype rosacea often impacts women over 40-years of age.                                                                                                                       
  • Subtype three: Rhinophyma, which thickens and enlarges the pores of the skin on the nose. This condition usually affects men and often appears with the first two levels of rosacea, especially on the chin, cheeks, forehead and ears.                                                                                                        
  • Subtype four: Ocular Rosacea which is concentrated on the eye area. Symptoms include bloodshot and watery eyes, a burning and stinging sensation in the eyes, dry itchy and gritty eyes, broken blood vessels cysts on the eyes and eyes that are not only sensitive to light but also diminished in vision.

Minimise the Symptoms and Control Outbreaks

While there is no cure for rosacea, it is possible to reduce the redness and help prevent further outbreaks. The best way to prevent an outbreak is to manage the condition.  

Start with your GP prescribing anti-inflammatory creams, gels and antibiotics to soothe and control the irritation.

Our senior dermal therapist, Michele Hetherington can devise a series of tailored photorejuvenation [laser] or Broadband Light treatments to reduce the fullness, redness caused by broken blood vessels and the fibrous thickening of the skin; starting with three consecutive treatments every two weeks and followed by three-four annual treatments.

What preventative measures can you introduce into your lifestyle? Start with monitoring the temperature of your skin and its natural hydration.

Rosacea often improves during the cooler months, however, the dry winter air and excess heating can trigger an outbreak. When the weather is hot and the UV rays are extreme, your blood vessels are likely to dilate, leaving you with a ruddy complexion.

For that reason, it is essential to apply non-active and emollient rich moisturisers to protect the skin’s natural barrier along with a medical-grade sunscreen [minimum SPF 30 containing zinc and titanium dioxide as opposed to creams containing benzophenone and avobenzone].

When the weather is cold and windy, the pores in your skin are more likely to clog so rug up and make sure that your skin doesn’t become dry.                                                                                                                                   

  • Avoid spicy foods, shellfish and alcoholic drinks — especially red wine which one glass alone contains up to 3800 micrograms of the natural compound; histamine —  another primary trigger that causes skin flushing and inflammation.                                                                                                        
  • Avoid sugary foods that have high glycaemic levels and carbohydrates, other elements that ignite inflammation of the skin.                                                                                                              
  • Avoid stimulants such as excess caffeine and artificial sweeteners                                                                                                  
  • Avoid strenuous exercise and saunas. It’s always best to exercise in a temperature-controlled room. On extremely hot days, consider jogging on a running machine rather than outdoors.                                                                       
  • Eat more protein found in fish, chicken and tofu; other healthy fats found in seeds, nuts, olive oil and protein-rich beans and lentils, and low-glycemic carbohydrates found in fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains such as oatmeal, and protein-rich beans and lentils.                                                                                                                                                         
  • Remain hydrated at all times. In fact, another important function of the skin is maintaining the balance of water [what we lose and what take in]. Drinking up to three litres of water each day [especially icy water] will help protect the skin from free-radicals, keep the blood vessels from dilating and wash out toxins that could clog the pores.                                                                                                        
  • Reduce your emotional stress levels as the ‘flight or fight’ triggers are believed to cause inflammation and increased circulation to the face; conditions that cause visible dilated blood vessels, pustules, papules, flushing and persistent facial redness. The skin may become even more sensitive with some patients experiencing stinging and burning sensations.

Try meditating and adopting breathing techniques [count to ten before breathing out]. Also, get a good night’s sleep. It is recommended that you have a minimum of eight hours each night including an hour of quiet time before you switch the lights off.                                                                                                                                        

A Clean Start To Skin Care Products:                                                   

Our skin is already susceptible to allergens and free-radical toxins, and any outbreak can further weaken the skin’s protective barriers.

Consider using a non-acnegenic foundation or mineral make-up enriched with calming ingredients such as Vitamin E, Chamomile and Calendula and a host of antioxidants that will:

  • protect and strengthen the skin’s natural barriers
  • minimise outbreaks
  • offer hydration
  • colour correct any redness.

Some tips

The key to countering any outbreak is to use the best products that help minimise flare-ups and learning how to apply your makeup without compromising the skin’s protective barrier.

  • Always ensure that your hands are clean and gently remove your makeup; never rub your face with an abrasive washcloth or towel.
  • Use suitable cosmetics that are appropriate for your unique skin-type and keep the application simple to lessen any potential outbreaks.
  • To further minimise irritation, use an anti-bacterial brush to apply your foundation [never your fingers].
  • Test any new cosmetic on your arm or neck to ensure that it doesn’t aggravate the skin

With any overnight skin-care treatment, it’s important that you use a soothing cleanser and moisturiser that will help minimise any inflammation and rebuild the face’s natural skin barrier. This could include products by Medik8, Biopelle, Cosmedix and A’kin [Rosehip Oil].

If you are currently suffering from an outbreak, combine your non-active skin ingredient treatment with an oral antibiotic that counters skin irritation, redness and inflammation, and slows the growth of skin bacteria. It’s important to remember that the products must suit your unique skin type.    

What should I avoid using in any skin-care regime?

Always use allergy-tested and non-active water-based products that soothe and nourishes the skin and avoid any exfoliating agents [microdermabrasion treatments], fragrances and astringents with alcohol, menthol and witch hazel.

And to rest the skin while you sleep, try using a silk pillowcase and ensure that you frequently wash your linen to reduce any flare-ups caused by bacteria.


Please read our blog on BBL Therapy.

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